Headteacher tells parents it is ‘vital for all children to return to school’ in September
The headteacher of one of Ipswich’s largest secondary schools has told parents it is “vital for all children to return to school” in September - to minimise the risk of falling behind.
However, Copleston High School principal Andy Green said life in the classroom would be radically different when young people come back, to protect students and limit the spread of coronavirus.
All schools were forced to close before the Covid-19 lockdown, except to the children of key workers.
Even though Year 10 and Year 12 students returned for a day a week at Copleston in June, the vast majority of teaching has been done remotely through online learning materials, screencasts and Microsoft Teams sessions.
While young people have benefited enormously from home learning during lockdown, Mr Green said: “Prolonged absence from school is concerning academically, socially and - for some children - will be very damaging.”
He described the decision to bring children back to school as a “balance of risk”, with the health threats of the virus on the one hand against the potential damage to children’s long-term education on the other.
“If a child loses out on education, this can have an impact across their whole lives - their economic prosperity and long-term health,” he said.
In a letter to parents, he added: “When we return in September, it will be vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.
“Missing out on more time in the classroom risks students falling further behind.
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“Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well. This means that in September we will be expecting all students to return to school, and we will be following our established procedures to promote good attendance.”
Changes at the school include:
■ Students washing their hands on arrival at sanitiser stations by the school’s two entrances, with regular hand-washing throughout the day.
■ Student movement to be kept to a minimum, with year groups kept in ‘bubbles’ within certain zones of the school.
■ Classrooms organised in rows, with social distancing in place.
■ Staggered break times and lunches. Only limited catering facilities will be available, so students have been encouraged to bring packed lunches.
■ Teachers will not be able to lend pens or notebooks to students, so all students must provide their own stationery.
■ The school’s What’s On Wednesdays activities for Year 7 cannot be run, meaning pupils in that year group leave at 1.50pm on that day of the week. “We can’t even run activities like chess due to the close proximity of the students facing each other,” the school said.
Mr Green said: “As you can imagine, this will mean significant changes to the way that we work.
“We will continue to implement changes to the building and premises over the summer break in order to make our environment safe and welcoming.”
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